Robert's Reviews > Her Last Death

Her Last Death by Susanna Sonnenberg
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Sep 26, 08

Read in March, 2008

In HER LAST DEATH, Susanna Sonnenberg achieves what I believe the very best memoirs can accomplish. She paints a vivid, living picture, not just of a life but of her relationship with her manic but unbalanced mother, and she does so with prejudice and personal perspective. Memoir is not autobiography; at its very best, the genre tells us not the facts and objective observation of the events. Memoir takes us into the heart of the author's experience, and it is its very subjectivity that gives it power. HER LAST DEATH brings the reader into Sonnenberg's internal world, a tumultuous place where both a mother's love and her sanity are always in question.

Sonnenberg doesn't flinch from the light when it comes to examining her own stumbles and weaknesses, and when an understanding of her troubled mother's psyche eludes her, as it often does, the author doesn't engage in conjecture or armchair psychoanalysis. Instead, she allows us to experience this inexplicable world with her, and in the end, we are left not so much with a sense of who her mysterious mother might have been, but rather whom the author has ultimately become.

In the course of facing a difficult past and its ramifications for her future, Susanna Sonnenberg has shown herself to be an extremely talented writer, and I eagerly await more from her.
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